This issue includes: President's letter, Sign up for program review, info about court watching, upcoming events and more!
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President's letter

Now's your moment to be heard

    It’s October! LWVCC begins a series of concurrent studies to review our Local Program.  This document -- which has not had a serious evaluation for some time -- is the guiding force that shapes our priorities and drives our program planning for each year.

    We need you to join a study group on Natural Resources, Human Resources, Local Government, or the local Judiciary. Times and locations are listed elsewhere in this newsletter and sign-up is still possible on our website (go here to sign up). Meetings  begin next week and extend into December to give each group ample time to thoroughly vet their topic, submit new wording, excise what’s not relevant, and point our League efforts in better directions.  Our Annual Meeting in May will give the entire membership an opportunity to approve the final draft.  Membership participation is important at all stages and your input is vital!  

   League’s strongest asset is and remains its membership, and this process capitalizes on this quality.  Many of you have wisdom, passion, and practical experience in one or more of these areas; sharing your knowledge for the benefit of the whole is what League does best. Other Leaguers want to learn and what a great opportunity this process affords. The greater the participation, the better the product, the clearer the directions.

Now’s your moment to be heard.

--Barbara Wysocki, League of Women Voters of Champaign County President

Upcoming Events

We hope to see you there!

  1. October-December: Program Review. We need you to help us review our local program so that it accurately reflects our league. SIGN UP HERE or contact Barbara by phone (217-367-5014) or e-mail  (
    • JUDICIAL SYSTEM –10/12/15 – 10 a.m. @920 N. Linview, Urbana
    • NATURAL RESOURCES – 10/14/15 – 6 p.m. @304 W. California, Urbana
    •  HUMAN RESOURCES – 10/15/15 – 7 p.m. @215 E. Sherwin, Urbana
    • LOCAL GOV’T -- 10/16/15 – 10 a.m. @Clark-Lindsey, Urbana
  2. October 20th. Cindi Canary, Executive Director of Independent Map visits the UI campus. (place & time TBD). 
  3. October 27th @ 11:00 AM: Board Meeting at Barb's house, 108 W. Holmes, Urbana
  4. December 4th (Friday): 7:00 @ the Art Theater: film: SUFFRAGETTE followed by panel discussion
  5. Tuesday – Dec. 15th   -- 50 Year Member Recognition Event  (the date is still tentative)
To stay updated on these events and more, connect with us on FaceBook or Twitter. 

Hello League,

My name is Katie Mertens and I am your new intern! To briefly introduce myself, I am a senior at the University of Illinois studying Community Health with a minor in Latin American Studies. This is my third year of involvement in the League of  Women Voters student unit, having previously served as treasurer and vice president. On campus, I also serve as a senator from the College of Applied Health Sciences in the student body government and am an active member of Model United Nations Illinois. In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, and watching chick flicks with my roommates. 

As the student unit is still in its infancy, our biggest goal for this year is to increase our membership. Our upcoming projects include hosting at least one speaker on campus each month to talk about issues that are relevant to students, voter registration drives, and a campus-wide campaign to inform students about the national debt. 

I am so excited for this opportunity to work with the League of Women Voters Champaign County and to meet all of you! If you have any questions or suggestions for me, please contact me at I look forward to hearing from you!


Katie Mertens

Program Review


Mini-Study Groups begin …
  • JUDICIAL SYSTEM –10/12/15 – 10 a.m. @920 N. Linview, Urbana
  • NATURAL RESOURCES – 10/14/15 – 6 p.m. @304 W. California, Urbana
  •  HUMAN RESOURCES – 10/15/15 – 7 p.m. @215 E. Sherwin, Urbana
  • LOCAL GOV’T -- 10/16/15 – 10 a.m. @Clark-Lindsey, Urbana
… and end by Dec. 18th


September General Meeting

Cunningham Children's Home

 “I’ve driven by this campus hundreds of times and never been in it or understood what happens here.”

      Several League members expressed this eye-opening sentiment at our first League meeting of the year at Cunningham Children’s Home (CCH). Celebrating its 120th anniversary, Cunningham is named for  Joseph Cunningham,  who migrated to Champaign County in the 1850’s and became the quintessential public servant as an entrepreneur, editor, historian, lawyer, judge and benefactor. Among his accomplishments are:

  •  he was a friend and supporter of Abe Lincoln,
  • he donated his library which became the County Archives,
  • he donated land which became the Urbana Park District,
  • he was an advocate of women’s equality and their inclusion in public higher education,
  • he was one of the first trustees of the University of Illinois and instrumental in its location in Champaign County.

      Today, Cunningham Children’s Home – another generous gift from the Cunninghams -- serves as a home and a safe environment for children with behavioral/learning issues. Most of the children come from East Central Illinois and are financially supported by state grants and programs, the Methodist Church, and public donations.
     CCH has already felt the impact of the budget stalemate as the state will no longer fund the services, care, and education of residents in their upper teens and early twenties.  Having lost funding because of the state budget crisis, their foundation has decided to assume funding this part of their mission from 
their own resources.  They also have a capital campaign underway to raise money to build a state-of-the art-instructional facility which will combine two existing schools on the campus and allow the re-purposing of the current buildings.
         Cunningham also has off-campus programs in Urbana and Rossville designed as therapeutic day schools for children who can live in their own home environment.

What a jewel in our midst!  What a legacy for our community!

Court Watching

What's it all about?

*****Interested? Contact Barbara Wysocki by phone (217-367-5014) or email (******
What’s the background to this Court Watching activity?
Some years ago, LWVCC approached the College of Law with a proposal about court watching. Like our Observer Program, court watching is an appropriate activity to uphold the public’s confidence in the judicial system as well as a means to inform ourselves about a very vital part of our local community.  The practice was incorporated into the first year law program and LWVCC represented the community as it observed practices and procedures of the courts in Champaign County.
What are the goals?
Transparency and fairness are keys to a well-functioning court system. Ways to ascertain or measure the degree of transparency and fairness is to have observers watch courts in action and then complete a survey. The items on the survey are designed to examine our local courts from many angles with these goals in mind.

What are the observers looking at?
The survey encourages observers to focus on the conduct and interactions of the presiding judge along with the attorneys representing the accused and the people.  While judges exercise a great deal of discretion regarding the climate in their court, it is commonly held that it truly takes a team of trained courtroom personnel to  maintain order and guarantee that the rights of everyone involved are upheld.
What happens to the recorded observations?
The survey form is very straight forward and can be completed on line or on paper. The observer is always unanimous, and the findings are routinely shared with judges and attorneys. Each year, the Trial Advocacy Program at the UI College of Law issues a report based on the information provided by the surveys. For example, over the years, observations noted a profile of the average jury which alerted the courts that juries ought to more closely reflect the demographics of Champaign County. On recommendation, the Courts and the County studied ways to implement changes to encourage more jury participation.
For League members who are available during the day, observing court is an important service to League and to the community.

*****Interested? Contact Barbara Wysocki by phone (217-367-5014) or email (******

LWVCC at the Farmer's Market

By the numbers

220 Number of signatures gathered for the Redistricting Petition
16   Number of Voter Registrations
11   Number of League Volunteers (including our intern Katie who lugged tables both weekends)
2     Number of New Members who joined up and paid their dues on the spot
*a number of others took our new membership flyer and promised to check out our website)
1     Highlight of the 2 weekends at the Market – a League  member from Ripon, Wisc. came upon our space and  really studied our table from the use of our large sign to the materials out for the taking and expressed envy at our public exposure. She went on to say that her League has no public image: “we meet monthly and all we do is talk.”
The 2nd place highlight was the number of people who thanked us for doing this petition drive.  Thanks to everyone who made this effort a success!

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.  The LWCC influences public policy through education and advocacy, working on various issues at local and national levels. League members come from all walks of life – united by our shared understanding of the importance of political literacy, we celebrate being non-partisan and diverse in our identities, affiliations, and experiences.

Copyright © 2015 League of Women Voters of Champaign County, All rights reserved.

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